Re: The 'PERFECT' REtirement Spot
Indeed, some of the areas in northern california AWAY from the major metropolitan areas do fit the bill, excepting the public transportation piece. Most of the towns near Jarhead and I have some busses, but a car of some kind is at least useful and probably necessary in most US towns of 150,000 or less.
Towns like Chico and Davis sport nice universities, some good places to eat (with very good ones a short drive away), Sacramento Intergalactic airport is 45 minutes or less, no snow, no volkswagon sized bugs, and the cost of living is manageable. Far cheaper than any big cities, more expensive than middle-of-nowhere places. Bargains can be had.
With that, you're roughly two hours from San Francisco, Napa Valley, and Lake Tahoe. Four hours or less to anyplace in the SF bay area or Marin County. Five to Monterrey and Carmel.
Now if money were no object, and all things being considered, I might like to live in Key West or just outside of San Diego. But you need a fat wallet for those places!
Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful. Just another form of "buy low, sell high" for those who have trouble with things. This rule is not universal. Do not buy a 1973 Pinto because everyone else is afraid of it.